By: Ana Horvat/ Nova24tv
Judging by how the current Prime Minister Golob is handling the situation, it seems that pensioners will be nothing but mute spectators of the Golob-NGOs government. Or, to put it another way, this approach is Golob’s way of telling them that they are not important to him. Apparently, everything is becoming more real and tragic because, according to the observations of the Slovenian Federation of Pensioners’ Associations (Zveza društev upokojencev Slovenije), the pensioners are becoming more and more dissatisfied with the actions of the current government, and to top it all off, they have been angered by the recent announcement of a rise in the annual pensioners’ allowance by just five euros, which they consider to be contemptuous. If the government does not change the provision in the budget implementation law, it will face a constitutional complaint, reports Slovenian Press Agency.
The annual allowance is being increased by 5 euros in all pay grades compared to last year. In the draft law of the implementation of the budgets for the years 2023 and 2024, the government has restructured the article on the payment of the annual allowance for pensioners. The Federation of Pensioners’ Associations is outraged by that. “They should just keep the five euros,” said the President of the Association, Janez Sušnik, at a recent press conference. Meanwhile, Erik Hofbauer, the President of the Association’s Expert Council, pointed out that the announced increase in the allowance does not keep pace with high inflation. At the same time, the Association pointed out that pensioners’ benefits are not keeping pace with those of employees.
The annual pension allowance for the year 2023 is set at different levels. For pension recipients with pensions of up to 600 euros, the annual allowance will be paid at 455 euros. For those with pensions from 600.01 euros to 720 euros, it will be 315 euros, and for those with pensions from 720,01 euros to 850 euros, it will be 255 euros. For those with pensions between 850.01 euros and 1,020 euros, the allowance will be paid at 205 euros, and for those with pensions above 1,020 euros at 145 euros, according to the bill. Robert Golob’s promise to “ensure a dignified old age” for pensioners was just another of the empty ones we are used to and this was aptly pointed out by a Twitter user who wrote: “Dear pensioners, as promised, Dr Golob has made sure you have a *safe and dignified* old age. You got 5 euros. A year. But don’t complain now, don’t you understand that the funds, say 6 million euros, are needed for non-governmental organisations?”
In addition to all of the above, the Association pointed out that the provisions of the Pension and Disability Insurance Act, which provide for the annual allowance to be set at two different levels, are continuously disregarded. They demand that the government ensure that the law on the implementation of the budgets for the next two years, which is in the parliamentary procedure, is amended to follow the law as regards the annual allowance. Otherwise, a constitutional appeal is being announced. Other criticisms raised by the Association today – from the digital education voucher fiasco to the attitude towards pensioners who are not allowed to discuss and decide on issues important to them (for example, they are not members of the Economic and Social Council) – have also been levelled at several previous governments. But in times of high inflation and increased uncertainty due to rising food and energy prices, as well as the referendum on the amendments to the Long-Term Care Act, there is growing dissatisfaction among members of the Association and beyond, said the Association’s Vice-President, Jožica Puhar.
If the referendum on the amendment succeeds, nursing home residents will have to face the prospect of higher care fees, but they also fear that the vagueness of the basic law, which cannot be implemented in practice, could temporarily leave some without certain rights, she said, pointing out the frustration at the Health Ministry’s lack of response to their warnings. In the Association, “they are, in addition, also surprised by the proposal of the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities that the valorisation of pensions should be carried out in a nominal amount, meaning 38.81 euros,” said Nežka Ivanetič, Chair of the Federation of Pensioners’ Associations’ Commission for Pension and Disability Affairs. “Any nominal increase is rejected by the Association’s authorities because we believe that the value of pensions should be preserved,” she said. Pensions are not financial aid; the problem of poverty should be solved by social transfers, such as care allowance and the like. But pensions should be a reflection of the contributions paid, according to the Association.
This is about tearing down the pension system
Members of the Federation of Pensioners’ Associations are worried about the long-term consequences of such a “tear-down of the pension system” because the equilibrium does not encourage higher contributions to the pension fund. With unemployment at record lows, the pension fund should be “bursting at the seams,” said Vera Pečnik, the Association’s Vice-President. The Association is also disappointed with the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute, which has called on the government to decide on an extraordinary adjustment of pensions “within the limits of available financial resources.” The Association had proposed an extraordinary adjustment of pensions of at least three percent, but according to the Institute’s calculations, it should be even more than four percent, they said.